Twitter Debate: What’s In A Name?

Do you use your personal name in social media like Twitter? Because I say you should in nearly all circumstances.

There is a bit of a debate about this. Die hard Twitter users, those who’ve been there since the inception, typically agree with me. But those who run small businesses or those who have multiple people in an organization struggle with this a bit.

It’s difficult to explain – because I preach that you must build your business brand. Right?

Right! But the exception is when you need to showcase YOUR personality in order to create some mojo behind your business brand.

And that’s the purpose of Twitter.

Twitter is like a party

Do you show up at a party and hand out your business cards when you walk in the door?

Do you wear a logo tshirt to a party and determination to flock your business to every person you meet?

Do you introduce yourself like this; “Hi, I’m XYZ Corp. Nice to meet you?”

Nope. You don’t. You put on your biggest smile and prepare to mingle, chat, observe, jump into the party talk or step back and take it all in. But you don’t pitch your business until you’ve been at the party for awhile and people like you.

You pitch your business once people like you.

That’s how Twitter works.

On Twitter YOU Are Your Brand

There is nothing more attractive on Twitter than a PERSON who makes a good conversationalist.

You can talk ABOUT business, just not pitch your business the second you get there, or more frequently than you would in a face to face conversation.

Be you. Share insights, inspiration, information and interest in others. It’s hard to do this genuinely, in a way that invites conversation, if your handle is your business name. It’s easy to engage and create chat amongst other Tweeters if you are personable as the person behind the brand.

Make sense? Not sure?

Take a peak at Twitter and you’ll discover for yourself that the people who are involved in the conversations you want to be part of are PEOPLE – they use their name as their handle, in some form or another, not their business name.

And note – this includes using a current photo of you, not your logo (or leaving the default egg) as your profile picture!

But Uh-Oh, Your Name is Taken

Any John, Bill, Jennifer or Kim (and nearly every other name) will discover your actual name is probably already taken. But don’t despair! In fact anticipate it and then consider that any variation on your good name works just fine. As long as it is a resemblance of your name then you’re still cool at the party.


  • John_Smith40
  • John_S
  • JohnS
  • John-Smith
  • John-S
  • JohnJSmith
  • JohnJS

When those don’t work, incorporate a key word from what you are known for or your business name is:

  • CoachJenSmith
  • CoachJen
  • CoachJenS
  • JenS_Lifecoach
  • JenS-Coach
  • JenS-CreativeCoach

*Thanks @CoachLindaK for your clever use of this style.

Caution: Every letter or character you use is a character that eats up the precious 140 allotment of your tweet, when retweeted by someone else (that’s the goal – a retweet is when someone shares your tweet to their community so you want your Twitter ID to be short as possible so it leaves more room for your message and theirs).

Example, imagine if I shared Jen’s tweet: “This is a great idea! I love lemonade! RT @JenS.Coach When life hands you lemons make lemonade. New article:”

The Rest Of Your Twitter Profile Tells Your Business Story

When you complete your Twitter profile, your name and business name both have opportunity to shine. You link to your business website and write a brief but compelling bio about how awesome you running your business are. Take a peak at other people’s biographies on Twitter and get the flavour for how to blend your personal brand with your business name.

Your Twitter Goal Is To Create Conversation

From conversation comes interest, intrigue and support for your business. Follow the 80/20 rule – 80% sharing ideas and information (they can be links from your blogs) and other people’s tweets and 20% “selling” yourself and your business. This will help make you cool at the party, and be a genuine, friendly tweeter that people will want to chat with.

So, agree? Disagree? Any questions about naming your Twitter handle? Try this article out about how to be personable on your blog without being too personal.

7 Comments. Leave new

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *